The ESSA is replacing the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is the lead agency developing the Texas state plan which must determine how the new federal law will affect accountability, funding, school improvement, and grant-making systems. “The passage of ESSA has created a unique opportunity to inform Texas’ education policy,” said Commissioner Morath. “However, we need input from all parts of our state to ensure that, under ESSA, all students in Texas can receive a high-quality education that prepares them for the future.”
The online ESSA survey, which will take less than ten minutes to complete, is available at http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/3003630/ESSA-Public-Input-Survey. The online survey provides an opportunity for anyone to share views on how the state should implement provisions of ESSA. The survey period will run through Nov. 18, 2016.
TEA will review input collected during the survey period and consider how best to incorporate into the final state plan. A final plan is required to be submitted to the federal government by July 2017.
To learn more about ESSA and the state’s implementation of the federal law, visit Every Student Succeeds Act on TEA’s website.
The Advocacy Institute, (http://www.advocacyinstitute.org/about/index.shtml ) and others have identified some issues as being very important for parents of students with disabilities to be aware of and advocate on at the state and federal level. The Institute is a non-profit that works to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Pete Wright of Wrightslaw is on its board.
Ensuring a high participation rate in state assessments (STAAR in TX) should be a high priority in their opinion. Participation allows parents and teachers to have the information they need to ensure that all students are making academic progress. “the assessment participation requirement established under No Child Left Behind lead to significant improvements in including students who had been historically not included in testing and/or tested at lower grade levels.” NCLB brought about what some call “curricular inclusion”, but many students with disabilities are still not expected to learn much of the state curriculum. (low expectations). Currently students with disabilities are below the low passing standards set for them. (Grades 3-8 29% to 44% High school 26% to 56%.
Setting small subgroup sizes is another priority for them. A high minimum for group size allows schools to not be held accountable for the performance of some subgroups. For more on their top issues for students with disabilities, http://www.advocacyinstitute.org/ESSA/ESSA-NPRM-Accountability.shtml
While the process of setting TX standards, and rules is just beginning, it is important for parents to be involved in giving input now and throughout the process. The state can set standards for students with disabilities that are based on low expectations and easier for schools to achieve. ESSA allows expectations for all students & subgroups to be substantially different. States will set proficiency goals based on the proficiency rate for each subgroup. In most states, students with disabilities are the lowest performing subgroup and, therefore, will be assigned proficiency rate goals lower than all other students. Depending on the starting point and what a State determines is “significant progress,” long-term goals could result in expecting less than half of students with disabilities to be proficient in reading/language arts and/or math.
Please share questions, comments, and information that you learn with us, and others that need to know. I do not want to see another situation like the 8.5% standard TEA set for the percentage of students in special education, e.g. low achievement standards are set for students with disabilities, and schools can say “We are doing a good job, we are meeting the TEA standard for their academic achievement.” The current TX standard is that all students will achieve at grade level.